All ailments are tough to deal with but having intense or chronic back pain can be particularly horrible since it tends to affect every part of life and is very difficult to avoid.
If you’ve been suffering from discomfort in this part of your body in recent weeks or months, ensuring you are smart about taking care of yourself and not making your pain worse is vital. Here are some things to consider.
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Don’t Use an Unsupportive Mattress or Pillow
You’ll be more uncomfortable if you don’t have a proper mattress and pillow. Have you had the same bed setup for a very long time? Or did you inherit a mattress from someone and have never found it quite right for your body? Either way, it’s best to update your bed to something newer and more supportive to help your back, lessen pain, and avoid causing more damage to yourself.
Whether you purchase a natural mattress made from latex or organic cotton or a hybrid, innerspring, memory foam, wool, or other product, be sure to pick something that suits how you sleep (side, stomach, or back) and the firmness level that helps your back stay happier. Update your pillow every year or so, and make sure the one you use isn’t too high or too low for you; keeping everything in alignment when you’re lying down is essential.
Try Not to Miss Out on Too Much Sleep
Upgrading your bed setup should help you sleep better most nights, even when your back hurts. In turn, you should notice that your overall pain levels stay lower. Getting enough sleep is vital in pain management since everything can hurt a lot more if we’re fatigued. To boost your sleep, ensure you have a bedroom with blackout blinds so you don’t get woken up too early by light streaming in, keep windows closed and use double glazing to stop noise from interrupting your nights.
Plus, keep the temperature just right to sleep comfortably, and consider keeping pets out of your bedroom. This way, they won’t disturb you when you’re resting or cause an accumulation of pet hair on and around your bed to create irritants, further exacerbating sleep issues.
Take Regular Breaks to Move About
Another way you can avoid making your back pain worse is by ensuring you take regular breaks to move about. You need to rest your body if you’ve been very active for a period or, as is more often the case for most of us, do some activity to stretch and exercise if you’ve been sitting or standing in place for an extended period.
While having quick breaks to go to the bathroom or grab some food or drink will help, also be sure to take longer periods, such as 15 to 30 minutes or more, to move. Do some yoga or other stretches, complete body-weight exercises (e.g., lunges, squats, and pushups), hit the gym, take a walk, or climb stairs, among other things.
Avoid doing anything too active where you risk hurting your back further, such as contact sports or anything where you could fall. Regular, gentle exercise will help back muscles stay more limber and less likely to seize up.
Pay Attention to Your Posture and Footwear Selection
Next, remind yourself to pay attention to your posture and try to improve it as much as possible. If you spend a lot of time slumped at a desk or sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle, you likely have less than ideal posture, which can exacerbate your back problems. It pays to see a specialist to learn techniques to correct your posture or engage in regular yoga, Pilates, or even ballet or barre sessions (gentle ones) to work the kinks out if you can.
Try to notice your posture when you work and remind yourself to stand up or sit up straight throughout the day. Plus, take advantage of ergonomic equipment where possible. For example, use the right kind of supportive, adjustable chair when sitting at a desk and keep your computer screen and keyboard at an optimum height.
An adjustable desk that allows you to swap between sitting and standing in the workplace can significantly change how your back feels over time. Add a thick mat to stand on when you’re on your feet for long periods or support your back with a bolster cushion of some type if you’re in a car driving for hours. Also, don’t forget to pick the right footwear to help your body throughout the day, especially if you have to stand or walk a lot at work.
Don’t Lift Anything Too Heavy or Get in Awkward Positions
It’s also vital to avoid lifting anything too heavy or getting into awkward positions where you might tweak or strain your back further. Whether at home, in the office or other workplace, or out and about, remember to use proper lifting techniques. Don’t let yourself bend at funny angles or twist too much to move goods; always ask for assistance from others to lift and move bulky and heavy items.
Press from your legs to use their power rather than straining your back muscles to carry weight. Remember that pushing rather than pulling heavy things is kinder to the body and that tools such as wheelbarrows, trolleys, and the like can make it easier to carry items when you’re by yourself. You can also divide loads into lighter weights to avoid hurting yourself.
As much as you might like carrying your children around on your shoulders, and they might beg for these kinds of “rides,” it’s wise to say no to lugging around heavy little bodies, too. It’s easy to do more damage than you realize at the time and pay for it later.
Following these tips will help you to protect your back and avoid doing things that make it any worse. Every little choice you make can have an impact, after all.
Featured Image by Tumisu from Pixabay